Greg Norman’s victory lap with employees after PGA Tour-LIV union may have been premature

Before Greg Norman decided to embark on a new golf league that would ultimately transform the sport, he sold all his properties in the United States, including a house on Jupiter Island, and prepared to return to his native Australia.

Then the tour that would become known as LIV Golf took place. And Norman was back in the market for buying a house.

Now, about two years later, Norman, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, may be looking for a buyer for that new home in Palm Beach Gardens and is moving back to Australia for good.

As more and more details emerge of the transformation deal between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, owner of LIV Golf, it looks like Norman, the controversial public face of LIV Golf, is either back.

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It was enough that the man known as The Great White Shark was sidelined during seven weeks of negotiations between the team of PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Kingdom’s PIF. Norman, 68, had no idea what was going on and was only told of the deal minutes before the two sides went public.

We have now learned that Monahan will oversee both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf when the deal is finalized.

This means the man Norman verbally fought and threatened with last year has the final say on the new venture, including whether any of LIV’s concepts are brought in and the reinstatement of LIV players like Brooks. Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson at the PGA Tour.

April 21, 2023;  Adelaide, South Australia AUS;  Greg Norman on the practice ground before the first round of the LIV Golf Adelaide golf tournament at Grange Golf Club.  Mandatory Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports

April 21, 2023; Adelaide, South Australia AUS; Greg Norman on the practice ground before the first round of the LIV Golf Adelaide golf tournament at Grange Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports

Norman’s role? Considering his motivation behind LIV was his disdain for the PGA Tour that dates back years, the likelihood of him having one is low.

These two paragraphs from a Sports Illustrated report say it all:

  • The PGA Tour will still be called the PGA Tour, but now Commissioner Jay Monahan also oversees LIV Golf, and the PGA Tour remains a partner of the DP World Golf Tour. Monahan told Al-Rumayyan that they will evaluate LIV at the end of the year.

  • If Monahan wants to disband LIV, he can. If LIV golfers want to play on the Tour, Monahan and current PGA Tour executives must approve the terms. Monahan banned them; it is assumed that the penalties for returning to the Tour will be significant.

Still, Norman was taking a victory lap shortly after the deal was announced. According to reports, he gathered employees on a conference call and told them:

“Congratulations! You changed golf, and you did it in less than a year. There will be no operational changes in 2023, 2024, 2025 and into the future. LIV is a stand-alone entity and will continue to do so. to be in the future. And that comes from the top.”

LIV remained largely irrelevant

Jimmy Dunne, the North Palm Beach resident whom Monahan credits as the man who was the architect of the deal, thinks LIV Golf never went the way Al-Rumayyan and the PIF planned. The league bet on team golf; and its 54-hole uncut concept has been criticized by golf traditionalists.

The one-year anniversary of its first event was this month, and LIV Golf continued to be shunned and remained largely irrelevant, with no major sponsors and a toothless television deal with the CW network. Each event was considered an exhibition, although very profitable for golfers.

When Dunne, president of the Seminole Golf Club who joined the PGA Tour board last year, contacted Al-Rumayyan, the man behind LIV Golf was eager to talk.

“It was more about the cake growing and the interest in the game, rather than ‘We’re going to do it the X way,'” Dunne told Sports Illustrated. “They have LIV, which on some level they must think was not what they were hoping for. They have the ability to line up on the PGA Tour, and that makes sense to them. And that’s all.”

That’s not to say LIV hasn’t left its mark on the game. And that’s where Norman can take a victory lap. LIV has certainly caught the attention of the PGA, which has injected more money into the Tour through several events with a $20 million purse and the Player Impact program.

When he told LIV employees “you changed golf,” he wasn’t wrong.

The year-long civil war certainly did not help the reputation of Le Tour or Monahan. When Monahan told reporters, “I recognize people are going to call me a hypocrite,” he was right.

Still, LIV Golfers and Norman lost all leverage. Monahan has all the power. For golfers, this means a very uncomfortable return to the Tour in which they will first be thrown as underdogs and suffer financial penalties while those who have remained loyal will benefit.

But for many who have already cashed in, it won’t really matter. They got what they wanted…lots of money. That’s why they all joined LIV in the first place.

For Norman, this likely means the end of his decades-long quest to stick with the Tour and the final chapter of his professional life which takes place in Australia.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: With Jay Monahan in charge, what’s next for Greg Norman after PGA Tour-LIV deal?

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